Jefferson Li

Jefferson Li

Two-year MBA '17

Age: 29
Hometown: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Education: Economics
Prior Employment: Business Manager, Equity Sales and Research

Why I chose Johnson

At Johnson, students get the best of two worlds… the feeling of a close community as well as access to a broad range of expertise that only a university like Cornell can provide. The collaborative environment was essential in my search for an MBA program.


January 29 2016

My Experience at Cornell’s Integrative Case Competition

The Integrative Case Competition gives Cornell MBA candidates 48 hours to build a business case to be presented for judging. While the competition is short, it’s built upon an entire semester of working as a team. Who would imagine that in the following weeks I would spend more time with these four strangers than anyone else? My team included class of 2017 peers Farzad Hasnat, Nathan Treybeck, Patrick Grumley, and Tina Lee.

Our first team effort at the Leading Teams Case Competition

Our first challenge together was the Leading Teams Case Competition, just nine days after meeting. We had to create a video and slide deck in less than six hours. Three teams reached the finals and we were one of them, which meant presenting our solution to more than 270 people that we had just met as well as a panel of judges. Unfortunately, we didn’t win the competition but we learned how to work as a team in a high pressure situation and were treated to lunch at Statler Hotel’s fanciest restaurant, Taverna Banfi.

The next case competition was the Marketing Case Competition, sponsored by SC Johnson. I was the team lead for this project and really wanted to take home a win. We made it to the finals, but again failed to capture the crown. It was a great experience to lead the team and I certainly learned a lot during this project, but it was our Johnson Leadership Fellow (JLF), Dax Howard, MBA ’17, who made this experience even richer by helping us to identify opportunities for improvement as a group and as individuals. Part of the Johnson leadership development is receiving continuous feedback. After every major project we would give each other positive and constructive feedback. Dax was incredibly instrumental in this process; guiding us and asking questions that really pushed us to self-reflect and improve.

By the time we reached the Integrative Case Competition, our team was more motivated than ever. We completed the majority of our first semester and were eager to utilize the toolset formed during core classes. The bar was higher than ever and we really had to perform at our best in order to compete against classmates, who I had the pleasure of meeting throughout the semester and learning their stories, each one uniquely successful and accomplished in their own way. Forty-eight hours passed in record speed.

Team 18 and JLF after winning the Integrative Case Competition

Competitors met the next day at Statler Auditorium for the announcement of finalists and their presentations. I couldn’t help but to think how much we’ve experienced since first sitting in this auditorium. How 300 strangers became a huge part of my life in just four months and how much we learned, not just about business, but about ourselves. This was when I realized that it didn’t matter if we won this case competition, we were already winners. The first finalist team was announced and presented immediately, then the second team…hearing each team’s solution only reinforced how high the bar was set. Finally, the third finalist team was announced, and it was us. We were back at the podium in front of a huge audience, but this time we weren’t in front of a crowd of strangers anymore. The announcement of the winning team would be made a couple hours later at Sage Hall. Third place was announced and it was not our team. Second place was announced... again, it was not our team. When I realized that we won the case competition, I couldn’t hold my excitement and celebrated loudly (probably a little inappropriately as we had not actually been declared winners yet). It was a great way to end the semester! I am ready for the second semester and can’t wait to see where the journey at Johnson will take me.



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